On the heels of Lifetime’s three-night event “Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning,” a follow up to the 2018 docuseries “Surving R. Kelly” about the singer’s alleged sex crimes, the project’s executive producers Brie Miranda Bryant and Jesse Daniels spoke to The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday (January 5) about protecting survivors, documenting abuse and what shocked them most about the case.
“After experiencing that screening where there was a gun threat called in, that changed a lot of ways that we wanted to approach [part two],” Daniels told THR about a December 4, 2018, incident where his team had to evacuate a the venue during a private showing of “Surviving R. Kelly.” “We wanted to be extra careful this time around. But we also knew that in order to get the best story, you’ve got to put yourself out there. We ultimately knew that we were going to have to take some risks for Part II.”
But it was risks that the 10 survivors shouldered when they went on the record and appeared in “The Reckoning” that most concerned Bryant. “In owning their stories and their truth, they created change,” she said.
Must-read excerpts from the THR interview:
On talking to women who are breaking nondisclosure agreements:
Daniels: We wanted to support their choice no matter what. So, if you didn’t want to speak out because you were afraid of the backlash that would happen and you wanted to move on, we were supportive of that. But if you were someone who did want to speak out, we want to provide our survivors a platform to be heard and we certainly hope now in this new era that other people would feel the same way if they came across this.
Bryant: I think it’s empowering ownership, right? Our lives are our stories. We own that. So what we heard back from a lot of viewers and throughout social media is support for being able to be brave enough to own their own story and tell it in the way that you’re comfortable with when explaining your truth. That was a part of the journey for us as producers and, I believe, for every single survivor and participant who sat down. It was what they experienced. It’s their story. It’s their truth. And no one should own that but them.
On persuading Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx to speak on camera:
Bryant: Getting Kim Foxx [to participate] was a huge get. We were so excited to have her and she was a pleasure to work with. We sat down with her one time and the conversation is what you see, maybe a little bit more was left on the cutting room floor. But she was extremely courageous in her position to open those doors for women and girls and whoever—men, boys, I don’t know—to come forward and tell their stories. And I hope that she’s inspiration for other people of authority who can open those doors for people like our survivors who have been through these types of situations and who feel like they have a safe haven to be heard. Because it shouldn’t really be through a documentary, it should be through the legal system that these things are handled.
On why they are determined to win justice for survivors of sexual abuse:
Bryant: Statistics show that every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, and every 11 minutes, that victim is a child. Only five out of every 1,000 perpetrators end up in prison. The journey to end sexual violence will be a long journey for all of us. We hope that by continuing to provide a platform to share what some of our survivors have endured that we’ll allow space for more survivors to find the very support they need.
Read the full interview at THR here.